Donations were made to Max Wilford during the pre-game tailgate event. (Alyssa Hunter)
Saddleback College’s administration came together this summer in order to lend a helping hand to Director of Student Development, Audra DiPadova, and her family situation.
Max, her 4-year-old son was diagnosed with brain cancer at the beginning of August, according to Erin Long, Inter-Club Council adviser and senior administrative assistant. She described Max as a lively kid who has lots of friends, and loves to play outside.
“No child should ever have to endure a life-threatening disease like cancer, but I know that Max is a strong little boy and he has a great support system,” Long said. “We are all pulling for Max, who is much stronger than I would be in this awful situation.”
When administration found out about his condition, they realized the importance of DiPadova needing time to spend with her son. As a result, they began trying to donate a large amount of sick leave time to her.
During the process however, classified staff members were told that they couldn’t donate sick leave time to her because of a board policy regarding catastrophic leave.
“Employees from different classifications [are] not able to donate time to one another,” Long said.
When Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo, chair of the language department, became aware of DiPadova’s situation, she began encouraging faculty to donate their time as well.
“Carmenmara was also told that faculty could not donate time to a classified manager due to the difference in classification and ultimately pay grade,” Long said.
Though Hernandez-Bravo was told this, she contacted people on the Board Policy Committee to have the policy changed.
“[If it is changed, it would] allow for colleagues of all classifications within the district to donate time to one another if needed,” Long said. “It seems, at this time, that there is positive movement for the change, which is so wonderful.”
Long recognized DiPadova as an amazing person, who people respect due to her positivity and profound intelligence.
“It is because of this, that so many faculty members wanted to donate a huge amount of time to her,” she said. “She has made a huge mark on this campus with her compassion, and it shows.”
DiPadova is unavailable at this time for comment, and has no idea that the campus has started a campaign for her, according to Long.
“Our office team and I miss Audra so much, but I am so thankful she can be with her son at this time, because he needs her and her amazingly positive energy now,” Long said.
Hernandez-Bravo is currently waiting for an answer from the district to see if the policy can be changed, thereby allowing faculty members to donate sick leave days to classified employees.
“We started a sick leave days drive and so far several faculty members have pledged more than 120 days for Audra,” Hernandez-Bravo said.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.